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Houston Retro Radio

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Calling all cassettes

If you have any original airchecks on cassette, please send them to me now.  If I don't receive any soon, I may get rid of my last cassette deck.

I was one of the first people in Houston to own an audio cassette machine and carry it around.  This was so far back that if you played it in public, everyone assumed it was a radio.

I was once listening to a cassette of Sgt. Pepper on a city bus. This was decades before iPods. It was even before the Sony Walkman, so I was listening through a speaker. I don't recommend that you do that on a bus today.

Some high school girls, only slightly younger than me at the time, recognized the music. One of them exclaimed, "They are playing the whole album!" The "they" in the statement meant whatever radio station I was playing.

They didn't realize that I controlled the horizontal, I controlled the vertical, and I controlled the audio. Music was moving into the outer limits of portability.

Eventually, I owned hundreds of cassettes, most of them spoken word recordings ranging from poetry to business management.

Starting in 2004, I copied all of my cassettes to mp3. The oldest educational cassettes had been around since 1972. All my cassette recordings now fit on a single hard drive. The physical cassettes have been physically cleared out of the room.

My current car doesn't have a cassette player. If I want to listen to material from a cassette, I have to burn the recording to an mp3 CD. The audio cassette format seems to have had its day.

I don't like having a lot of unused equipment gathering dust. That's why I just sold my darkroom enlarger and Kodak Carousel slide projector. It was clear that those items where part of my photographic past, but not part of my future.

I used Craig's List for the first time. It was great to be able to sell things without risking money on ads which might not sell.

The last time anyone sent me a new aircheck on cassette was in 2007. Are there any more out there? Please send them now while I am still set up to copy cassettes myself.

Of course, I am also accepting reel to reel tapes, but I have to dub them at the nearby home studio of a former program director.

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A Facebook page for your questions and remarks

I have set up a blog just for the people who visit this web site. It is not a place for ME to answer radio questions. It is a place for ANYBODY to answer a radio question.

If I happen to know the answer, I will write one. However, the chances are there will be someone else out there who is better equipped to give an answer.

I am hoping that people will go there first with their requests for specific airchecks and esoteric radio questions.

I can think of two other purposes for this blog:

1. People can post comments about radio even if they are not related to a particular question or aircheck.

2. People can debate details of radio history without dragging me into the middle of any disagreement. Comments which are less than civil will be removed.

So, you see, this Facebook page is not about me but about you: Your questions, your answers to questions, and your opinions about radio . . . past, present, and future.

Houston Retro Radio on Facebook

Grady McAllister

May 5, 2011


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Desperately Seeking Sixties

Although this web site has a reputation for being about Houston radio in the sixties, there is no set cut off date on either end of the period covered.

The most recently recorded item is a KNUZ oldies format aircheck from 1991. I also have a good amount of New Wave era material from around 1980.

Actually, the early 60's are woefully underrepresented here. Only a very few items were recorded before October, 1964.

I am asking for more Houston radio material from the 60's, especially the first half of the decade. Top 40 recordings are welcome, particularly if they are unscoped recordings not previously heard on the internet.

I also want to make a special appeal for adult format materials from the early and mid 60's.

That would include such AM stations as KXYZ, KODA, KPRC, KTRH, and KTHT (Demand Radio 79) plus all the Houston FM stations of that era.

I am asking you to think about about what old reel to reel tapes you may know about. Those materials may be gathering dust in someone's attic. They may be about to be thrown into the proverbial (and literal) dust bin of history.

That is what will happen to those tapes if someone dies and the person in charge of the estate fails to understand their historical interest. If you own those tapes yourself, the person to whom I just alluded who will hypothetically die someday is you.

— Grady McAllister

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"I tell my lecture audiences to never, ever watch local TV news."

— Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

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Galveston 1980 to 1988

Girl combing hair while skating on Galveston seawall.

Above: It's December, 1980, and a Sears Ricoh 35mm camera on a tripod captures a skater heading toward Galveston's historic Buccaneer Hotel. The Buccaneer was demolished in 1999.

All photos in this left column were taken by Grady McAllister in the 1980's.

Photographer's note: The Seawall Boulevard photos were shot from 1980 to 1983. An especially high percentage are from the mild winter of 1980-81.

During that period, I was there nearly every weekend to practice my photography.

I took the other photos at East Beach, Stewart Beach, and The Hut Club, and the dates run from 1980 to 1988.

Additional vintage Galveston photos are on the on the Galveston, Suburbia & Exurbia page.

Most images can be clicked for a larger view.

The first black and white image below is from the summer of 1980, and it is the first 35mm picture I ever took in Galveston.

It was one of the hottest summers ever experienced in the Houston area. The temperature was going up to about 104 every day. In fact, there was a nationwide heat wave -- I still have a Life magazine with a blazing sun on the cover.

At that point, I wasn't a regular visitor to Galveston and had not been there for several years. A friend talked me into going down on a weekday. We went to East Beach and discovered two ladies who had found their own way of dealing with the heat.

I had just bought my first 35mm camera, and I barely knew how to use it. I was just playing around with photography at that point, and I didn't even keep the negative for this picture.

Sand bathers at East Beach in Galveston

Galveston Seawall Blvd. at dusk, December, 1980

United States Bank bilboard

Two young women stroll by Hills Restaurant 1980 time exposure in from of Jo Jo's Restaurant
Girl sit on edge of seawall near Shrimp Boat pier

Stewart Beach  Writer. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Two men bending - Galveston. Photo by Grady McAllister.

two girls floating in an inner tube. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Notice the convenient plug for Igloo coolers. The last time I checked, they were still being made in Houston. I still use one I bought in 1984.

Dog drinking from Igloo cooler. Photo by Grady McAllister.

blimp over Galveston. Photo by Grady McAllister.

sailboats sitting  on East Beach, Galveston. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Surrey ride by Jo Jo's in Galveston. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Looking out window on Seawall Boulevard - Galveston

Small airplane in sky over beach. Photo by Grady McAllister.

sailboat on dark green water. Photo by Grady McAllister.

The anamorphic photo below is adapted from a slide shot in Galveston in 1980. The arrow, which pointed to the 61st Street fishing pier, is no longer there. Hurricane Alicia may have destroyed it in 1983. This arrow image is the emblem for all of The Vasthead web pages.

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Image on right: The Galveston Buccaneer Hotel on a foggy afternoon early in 1981. Click for a full view.

Classic rock van - KRBE. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Winter fog lifts at Buccaneer Hotel. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Galveston Dawn, 1982. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Above: The Galveston seawall, a summer Sunday at dawn in 1982.

Two girls posing in bluejeans and green blouses, 1980

Woman in red blouse, 1980, Galveston seqwall

Galveston's Flagship Hotel in 1980.

Above: The Flagship Hotel in December, 1980. The hotel long served as a dividing point for the Galveston seawall, the longest continuous sidewalk in the world. Hurricane Ike gutted the hotel in 2008. In 2012, the pier became the Pleasure Pier amusement park, a revival of a role it held before the hotel opened in 1965.

Below: Skaters take babes in arms along for the ride in 1981. Don't try this yourself. Visible through the lifting fog is the Buccaneer Hotel, demolished on New Year's Day, 1999.

Babes in arms on skate ride

lady with parrot

skate rental stand

Above: November, 1980. It's twilight and time to return the skates after an afternoon on the Galveston seawall. Below: The same two skaters a moment later. This time, they knew they were being photographed.

Same girls as above after returning skates




Under ongoing construction: Ron Foster oldie shows


It has taken a decade to get the last of my airchecks on the internet.

Up until now, I have only had two short Apollo 11 recordings on this site. The first and last items below first appeared here in 2005.

I am now adding the remaining material, the bulk of my Apollo 11 recordings. They include everything I recorded on July, 20, 1969, the day of the actual moon walk. Now, all the airchecks I ever recorded and kept (besides recordings of myself) are now on line.

The long delay was due to some technical issues which were overcome with a new audio editing program.

I had trouble uploading these items to my server, so I cut the kbps rate from 160 to 64 and converted the two-track recordings to one-track mono. Since this is talk radio from 1969, the content was already mono, and you shouldn't notice any difference in quality. Please let me know if you have any problems when listening to these materials.

Grady McAllister, December 24, 2015

P.S. I am not 100% sure that the July 20, 1969, segments are in the right chronological order. I need someone to study the recordings very carefully and let me know if the sequence makes sense.

If any link fails to work, please send me an email.

KTRH, Houston, July 16, 1969

The Apollo 11 crew leaves earth orbit and heads toward the moon.

Items recently added...July 20, 1969: Man lands on the moon and goes for a walk.

That sums it up in a few words. Additional annotation will be added later.

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 1

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 2

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 3

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 4

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 5

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 6

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 7

KTRH, Houston, July 20, 1969, Part 8

KTRH, Houston, July 21, 1969

The Apollo 11 Eagle module lifts off from the surface of the moon. Its crew prepares to rejoin the Columbia command module in lunar orbit.

Official NASA Apollo 11 Timeline

KXYZ turns Houston into Brigadoon on the Bayou

The articles have been rewritten, and KXYZ has its own page for the first time.

Please leave your comments at:

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Added June 12, 2014

Bill Young Remembered

Bill Young not only directed KILT during its last fifteen years as a rock station, he practically invented the concert promotion industry.

The only time I actually talked to him was on the telephone in 1966. I was a mere high school student promoting a mock radio show that I played over a phone line.

Forty years later, I got to know him better when he contributed numerous remarks and recordings to these radio aircheck pages. If I had not been encouraged by Bill and a few other prominent broadcasters,  I probably would have put up a few recordings on a single page and let it go at that.

Most of my Bill Young airchecks and commentary are on the 60's, 70's and 80's pages:

Mainly '80's | Mainly '70's | Mainly '60's

Grady McAllister

Added March 17, 2013

Hear KILT becomes a country station at 6:00 AM

A special moment in radio from Robert B. McEntire

KILT, Houston, June 1, 1981

For the benefit of people who live out of Texas or who don’t remember the days of real radio…

From the 50’s to the 80’s, KILT was one of the most influential radio stations in the nation, creatively and constantly re-inventing the top 40 music format.

By the early 80’s KILT was searching for a new identity as FM rivals eroded KILT’s stranglehold on the rock and roll audience. On June 1, 1981, KILT changed to country, a format still heard on KILT-FM, 100.3. The original KILT (610 AM) is now an all sports outlet.

Long-time KILT newsman Robert B. McEntire sent us this recording of the exact moment when KILT switched to country.

What was KILT like just before the changeover? Thank you for asking... On March 25, 1980, I just happened to record a few hours of KILT in the twilight of its Top 40 era…


Look for "A Night in the Life of KILT" in the right column of that Mainly 80's page.

What a Way to Go-Go: KILT in 1966


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October 19, 2018 1:20 AM .

A Radio Sound Museum for Houston

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If you don't want your name to be used or an email to be quoted, please state that at the beginning of your message.

Unless otherwise indicated, all commentary and photography on this site are by Grady McAllister.

No Shock and Awe Frenzy! Some points to ponder before writing to this web site...

1, The purpose of this web site is to receive radio recordings from people, mainly material that has not been widely heard before.  It is not the purpose of this site to take requests for airchecks or to find specific airchecks for people. This is not the Aircheck Factory Warehouse.

2. The only airchecks available from this site are the ones that are already on line.

All the aircheck pages are listed in the upper left of each radio page. If you don't see an aircheck of your dad, your brother, your ex-wife, or whoever else you are seeking, I don't have it. I don't consider airchecks a major hobby, and that is why you see only a limited amount of material.

I like having a web site that looks good and is well written. That means a lot more to me than having airchecks piled higher and deeper than everybody else. I am not interested in making wholesale downloads from other sites just to have every Houston aircheck on the planet.

3. Messages which complain that a particular DJ is "missing" from this site will be ignored.

If such an aircheck even exists, the only way I could get it would be to download it or buy it from another web site. That is not what I am here for. This is not the Open-All-Night, Worldwide, Web-Wide, Clearinghouse for All DJ Recordings.

4. Please don't send images such as pictures of DJ's or scans of music survey sheets. You may, however, put those items on our Facebook page.

5. If you really want an answer to a question, you need to expose it to a wide audience. Sending it to me in an email is not the way to do that. Please place your questions on our Facebook page. That way anyone can respond who knows the answer.

Houston Retro Radio on Facebook

6. Most of the airchecks we receive fall into the top 40 category. However, during the period we cover—the 60's in particular—there were other popular formats which have all but disappeared.

They included classical, MOR, jazz, and beautiful music. I am also thinking of the early versions of adult contemporary, news and talk, album rock, and country. We would like to uncover more recordings in those categories. My personal favorite is the KXYZ beautiful music format which ran during most of the 60's.

This is a place where a select number of air checks appear on line, are written about, and are given their proper place in Houston radio history.

This site started as a place for recordings I had made myself. Later, people sent me other airchecks. The emphasis was always on recordings that had never been heard on the internet, not on materials available on other web sites.

I'll be glad to make an exception if the air personality himself sends me a recording. I will use it even if it is already on another site.

Nonetheless, the main search is for airchecks that have not been widely heard. Also, they must be connected in some way to the Houston area.

The Free Corps of Free Lance Advisors: "You gotta believe we wuz groovy babies back in the day!"

Every now and then, I am contacted by the Free Corps of Free Lance Advisors. They want the world, and they want it yesterday. They love to "suggest" something that is well beyond the scope of this web site.

For one thing, it is not the mission of this site to set up web page shrines to particular DJ's. One advisor sent a "request" that I set up a separate Facebook page to pay tribute his favorite '60's night jock. He claimed to be a web technology expert, but for some reason he expected me to do this for him.

There are aging teenagers out there who expect me to slip into a Shock and Awe Frenzy at the mere mention of a 60's DJ.

Their attitude is something like this:

"Let's all party like it's 1969! You gotta believe we wuz groovy babies back in the day, so you had better get excited and come up with exactly what we want! 

"Your mission (whether or not you choose to accept it) is to turn this radio site into whatever we tell you to. If you don't, we will tell the world your web site isn't worth a [characterization deleted]!"

They think this site is the Super Quickie, Just-in-Time Delivery, Aircheck Order Window.

They think that since I have some airchecks, I wallow in airchecks day and night. They think I should drop everything to devote a little more thought to their Boss Jock of All Time.

In the case I just mentioned, the importunate emails became more and more insistent and downright abrasive. I had to bar him from my existing Facebook page.

That kind of advisor I can do without. The fact is I have plenty of ideas of my own which I have not found time to implement.

Another person wrote to ask for a recording of a rap artist from the 90's. Anyone who has really looked at this site knows it is not the place for rap.

That is really the crux of the problem: People write wanting this or that without taking a good look at what is already here or at my explanation of why the site exists.

For more information about this main radio site, go to this page:

About These Pages

And, once again, you can place your questions and comments on our Facebook page:

Houston Retro Radio on Facebook

This radio Facebook page is open to the public. In other words, you don't have to be approved for a 'friend" list in order to comment. All you need is your own Facebook account.

If you have a comment about radio, a question about airchecks, or a request for a particular kind of aircheck, please place your remarks on our public Facebook forum.

Groovy, baby!

Or, A typical aircheck request: "Could you possibly find more of these and put them on your site? That would be so groovy, man...LOL"

— from an April 27, 2010, email

My Response:

Somebody has been watching too many Austin Powers movies.

The above message complained that this site has only short "snippets" of KILT in the 70's. That's quite a shame, isn't it?

I am going to explain the aircheck situation one more time.

This page began just as a place to list my own recordings of radio stations. Later on, other people made contributions, but this site was never intended to be the Listener's Clearinghouse for All Airchecks.

It takes quite a bit of time just managing the current collection. I am not in the business of finding specific additional airchecks for people. The reasons are thoroughly explained on the FAQ page.

If you have something to contribute, fine, but don't expect me to locate new airchecks for you.

If you would like to make a public appeal for a specific type of recording, you should place it directly on our public Facebook page.

Do not request an aircheck in an email to me.  Everything I have to offer is already on line, so what is the point in asking for what I obviously don't have?

Don't write just to complain about what isn't here. I am not here to apologize for what I don't have.

I set up the public Facebook page so people would have a place to appeal for airchecks, ask questions, and express opinions. 

Houston Retro Radio on Facebook.

Bring your specialized radio questions to: Houston Retro Radio on Facebook

The Facebook page is an adjunct to the Houston Retro Radio site.

It takes a cabal of radio people to create a clearinghouse for all radio questions.

If you are a radio veteran

OR a fountainhead of radio knowledge

OR the leader of a free corps of free lance advisors,

this Facebook page is the place to dazzle the world with your radio expertise.

Houston Retro Radio on Facebook

You can still write to me directly:

Write to this site

However, questions about who was morning drive in what year and general rants will probably be referred back to the Facebook page.

Do not for any reason send me an email reading:

"I used to love listening to Big Harry's Top Ten. Why don't you have any Big Harry tapes? What's wrong with you?"

I have set up the Facebook forum for a very selfish reason: I don't like dealing with questions like the one in the above example.

How this web site is organized

This radio section grew to the point where had to be split into more than one page. The new pages are listed toward the top left.

No system of classification is perfect, and once you put a station into a category there can be some misleading implications. KILT won't be listed as an adult format, but it was not just for teenagers. It mainly aimed for ages 18-35.

On the other hand, some teenagers listened to the KXYZ beautiful music format in the 60's. I was one of them.

Here is the question I use to separate the adult formats from the not so adult formats:

"Is this a station which a young punk would put up with?"

In the 60's and 70's, a young punk would have listened to KILT and KLOL, but he would not have put up with KPRC, KODA, or KYND. I listened to all those stations, including the ones that a young punk would have laughed at. I was young but I was never a young punk. (I credit the Alex Bennett recordings for teaching me the usefulness of the phrase "young punk.")

There will also be overlapping categories. The Alex Bennett group is big enough to rate a separate section. Yet among his material you can find entire recordings which are the regular KILT music programming, not just the talk shows you expect.

You also find the opposite situation: A talk show on page devoted mainly to DJ's. The Beau Weaver talk show follows the Captain Jack DJ materials on the Mainly 80's page. That is because I didn't want to break up my "Night in the Life of KILT" set.

There are also newscasts embedded within talk shows and music shows. I hope to eventually copy all of the newscasts and list them separately on the news and public affairs page.

This home page is the one you should mark in your browser. The specialized radio pages will undergo additional reorganization and renaming, so always begin your visit here.

If you wander onto another part of VASTHEAD.COM, you can return to this radio home page by using the cyan colored link marked "Houston Retro Radio."

Houston Retro Radio is hosted as part of VASTHEAD.COM, a web site which has been on line since 1997.

More about this radio site

If you don't want your name to be used, or for an email to be quoted, please state that at the beginning of your message

All writing, including my own, is subject to continual revision to better meet the current needs this site. In some cases, an incoming message may be rewritten slightly to improve clarity or to conform to generally accepted editing practice (for example, not beginning a sentence with a numeral).

Please write to me if you notice any typographical errors, bad links, skipping mp3 files, or any other problems in these pages.

There is little point in writing to me seeking a specific aircheck. Nearly everything is already here.

Grady McAllister

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The above recordings are archived for their historical value to researchers. They may not be used for any commercial purpose. The material is made available under U.S.C. Title 17 Section 107. Any given item may be covered under international copyright law even if no copyright notice appears.

Houston Retro Radio is hosted as part of VASTHEAD.COM.

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